My Take on Fifty Shades

I should probably start with the disclaimer that I don’t read romance novels. I never have, and to be honest, I’m not interested in what is called “Typical Romance.” I like stories about people and relationships.  My book, “Subway Girl” is considered by some to be a romance, or even erotica, but I think the best description of my writing came from a reader who said,

Your stories are very serious stories of human struggle and potential couched in the comforting, uplifting terms of a romance novel.

Before I wrote “Subway Girl,” I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and the women in my book club said, “It is really awful. You should read it.” The suggestion was that anyone could write that crap. I disagree.

There are many things I don’t like about FSOG, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I am not really turned on or off by BSDM. I don’t have any personal experience, but I took an online quiz that said I am neither “Dominant or submissive,”  I am what they call, “Exploratory”.  Translation; I believe anything any consenting adult wants to do in the bedroom is just fine and sex is meant to be fun. So it is not the sex in FOGS that I found disturbing, it was the whole virgin / billionaire thing. But hey – that’s a fantasy a lot of people entertain, it’s just not for me.

In FSOG, Christian Grey buys Anastasia a new car and takes her on a date in a helicopter that he pilots. In “Subway Girl,” Ray Kelly’s remembers how Alicia takes her coffee and brings her a cup. I’ve got simple taste, what can I say? It feels accessible to me, attainable. I feel sorry for women that pine for a helicopter ride and even worse for the guys that can’t provide that.

But you know what FSOG did right in my opinion?  Funny sexy banter via email. That was my favorite thing about the book FSOG, the sexy playfulness that they communicated outside of the bedroom. Email is free, coffee is cheap, and romance requires thoughtfulness. So being broke is not really an excuse, is it?

Most of people criticizing FSOG have not actually read the book. I like controversy if it makes people think, but this bandwagon seems mostly reactionary. I don’t know what to say about the movie, I have not seen it and there are probably twenty other movies I would see first.

I would guess that “Subway Girl” doesn’t belong on the shelf next to FOGS. Someone recently said it belongs next to “Catcher in the Rye,” but that is too high a compliment. But it does feature a male narrator who is down-and-out roaming the streets of Manhattan. My copy isn’t actually on my shelf, but it makes a decent mouse pad for my laptop.

book cover FSOG


Spotlight On – Possessed by Paul James

Insomnia.  I hate it.  During one particularly awful bout, I was perusing Facebook at 4:00 a.m and came across a link posted by a friend with the title “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely”.  Did he post this for me?  I clicked the link and my mind was blown.

I should probably mention my unconventional and eclectic music taste. I am heavily influenced by having spent my youth in the punk rock scene, but in the past few years I have developed an affinity for blue grass.   Imagine my surprise to discover a musician playing my favorite instruments, writing poignant lyrics, and being rowdy enough to appeal to my inner-punk-rocker. “Possessed by Paul James” is actually a one man band and a teacher (insert kindred spirit) hailing from Austin.  His real name is Konrad Wertz and his performance name is a hybrid of his father and grandfather.  Take a look and listen to my first impression of this talented man:


And so there you have it.  I was instantly in love with the soul that created this art specifically for me.  Well, PPJ might argue that he hadn’t met me yet, but…

I immediately messaged my friend Davey and said “Whaaaatttt the Hell?  Where did you find this?”  He told me the story of recently seeing PPJ live and then sent me this link:



I love these two songs because they show the diversity and range of PPJ.

I immediately bought two CD’s and looked for his concert schedule.  PPJ plays in Texas often, but I was lucky enough to see him in Long Beach last summer.  I was astounded that it was such a small show.  My friend Erin and I literally pulled up a bale of hay and sat about five feet from PPJ and listened to him play and sing as the sun went down.  It was one of the best days of 2014 for me.

We met him afterwards and he was as nice and authentic as could be.  My friend took this lousy cell phone pic (I guess he was as giddy as I was, high on the music.)


He was a genuinely nice guy who spoke to the audience like a room full of friends.  I am a huge fan and if you can ever see him live, you will not be disappointed!  He is in Minneapolis next week, Dallas in early March, Norway and Sweden this summer.  Of course if you live in the Hill Country of Texas, there are plenty of opportunities to see Possessed by Paul James.  I really hope you do!


Monday Musing – Book Signing

My first book signing is now under my belt and it went better than expected.  Part of the success was due to my undeniable talent, not as a writer, but as a friend picker.  I recruited Thomas of “Sea Beating” to play music so the focus would not be all on me, and he put together a set geared toward the coffee shop atmosphere and the theme “Love and Redemption.”  He used his charisma to plug the book a few times and I think he actually made me blush!  (Not that easy to do, for those who don’t know me.)

I asked the dashingly handsome Aaron to do the reading, since “Subway Girl” is written in the first person from a male point of view.  He did an amazing job as the voice of “Ray Kelly”.  For those who don’t know Aaron, he is a writer and a very good friend with his own blog (check out transistor sister).

My ole’ pal Annie showed up and was a great sport when I sprung the news on her that she would do a little Q and A with me at the end.  I used to teach with Annie and we were in a book club together, so we have spent a lot of time in the past discussing books.  I don’t think either of us would have predicted we would be talking about my book one day!

To me, the warmest moment was when my son (who is very much like a little adult) showed up after his football game and sat front and center.  After the Q and A, he raised his hand to ask a relevant question, “How did you get the idea for Flower Girl?”  Later that night he told me, “I really enjoyed your book signing.  Will you do it again for Flower Girl?”

I hope we do it again.  It was an enjoyable evening with a mixed crowd of lovers of music, coffee, and books – my kind of people.  “Flower Girl” is in editing and “Sea Beating” is recording, so who knows.  Maybe we will have a package deal, CDs and books?

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Book 3 – Runner Girl

Untitled #33

Black skirt
$23 –

Jimmy Choo black purse

Photography wall art

Spotlight on – Sarah Sunderman!

If you happen to take my sage advice and visit the Santa Ana Art Walk, then you definitely should seek out the subject of this week’s spotlight; Sarah Sunderman. Sarah is the co-owner of Cameo Appearance Vintage, where the store and merchandise are reflective of the stylishly hip ownership. You won’t have to weed through junk or tolerate a musty old smell in order to find a unique vintage piece that is ready to wear, and reasonably priced. Sarah oversees the operation of the showroom, as well as buying, listing, and photographing the array of fantastic vintage clothing.

The fashionista / photographer created their website and manages all marketing and social media.  You can visit, or just check out this preview of stylish eye candy:

HAILEY_WEB_4 (2)      JAZZY_WEB_4 (2)

JORDAN_WEB_7 (2)      JORDAN_WEB_21 (2)


Cameo Appearance Vintage is new to downtown Santa Ana, having recently relocated from Las Vegas.  It was a smart move that allowed Sarah to open up a brick and mortar shop in addition to her online business.  Now she can enjoy interacting with her customers, as well as thriving off of the supportive and collaborative artists community that Santa Ana provides.

The official “grand opening” is on March 7th, same night as the March art walk.  There is plenty to enjoy, such as street performers, open-air vendors, food trucks, art galleries, and open doors to many art studios.  I’ll be there and will make it a point to swing by Cameo Appearance Vintage and say hello to the creative Sarah Sunderman.  Maybe I’ll even get a new old dress!


The Santa Ana Artwalk is held on the first Saturday of each month from 7-10:00 p.m., between Main and Broadway, Fourth and Fifth.  Cameo Appearance Vintage is at 207 N. Broadway, Suite H.